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Rewards

Overview

God rewards believers for service to him

 

  • These are some of the foundational Scripture that speak of rewards from God to believers. From them we formulate the biblical doctrine. These Bible passages the what, why, and how of the doctrine that God rewards believers. Think of and write down one or two, or more, main summary points from each passage. This should reflect our understanding of the passage and the doctrine. Then think about what we should do as individual believers so that we lay up rewards for the judgment seat of Christ.
    • 2 Corinthians 5:10
    • Romans 14:10-12
    • 1 Corinthians 4:5
    • Ephesians 6:5-9
    • 1 Corinthians 3.5-15
    • 2 John 8
    • 1 Corinthians 9:24-27
    •  2 Thessalonians 3:13
    • Galatians 6:7-9
    • 2 Timothy 4:6-8
    • 1 John 2:28
    • James 1:12
    • 1 Peter 5:4
    • What others should we have in this list?
  • Earned rewards are distinct from God’s free gift of eternal salvation (Ephesians 2.8-9). God rewards believers for service to him (Romans 14.10-12; 1 Corinthians 3.8-15; 2 Corinthians 5.9-10; 2 John 8; Revelation 2:10; Luke 19:11-27).
    • But, of course, God has given us “all things that pertain to life and godliness” (2 Peter 1.3).  So, there is a connection between grace for salvation and works for rewards. Peter even uses the word diligent and diligence (2 Peter 1:5, 10; 15; 3:14).
  • God has a plan for service for believers (Ephesians 2:10). Peter writes about this in 1 Peter 4:10-11 where he includes both speaking and doing. We can summarize the larger doctrine of a believer’s ministry under God’s plan (Ephesians 2:10), God’s love (1 Corinthians 13:1-7), and spiritual gifts (1 Peter 4:10-11).
  • The desire to please God is the right motivation for service that results in reward by God (Galatians 1:10; 1 Thessalonians 2:4; 2 Corinthians 5:9; Ephesians 6:6; Colossians 1:10; 3:20).
  • Another good motivation for right spiritual service and rewards is the desire to have confidence before him when he comes for us instead of shame (1 John 2:28. Apparently, at the rapture of the church there will be a brief sense of shame or embarrassment as we realize how much we could have done. A.T. Robertson in his Word Pictures says, “as if shrinking away from Christ in guilty surprise.
    • What about Paul and his anticipated meeting with the Lord? Paul wrote his own obituary in 2 Timothy 4:6-8. He looked forward to the crown of righteousness.
  • The desire for reward from God for spiritual service is a genuine and correct motivation for that service, though it is not the only motivation as points 2 and 3 indicate.
    • Jesus says to lay of treasures in Matthew 6.20. He wants our interest to be in heavenly service and we can then gain heavenly rewards.
    • Paul wrote, in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27, that he ran the spiritual life race so that he would win the prize.
    • Striving to run the spiritual race for reward is not selfish, unless we do it without regard to honor and please the Lord. If that is the case, then we are not loving the Lord nor other believers and our service will burn up (1 Corinthians 13:1-3 with 1 Corinthians 3:11-15).
  • The Bible teaches that every believer shall stand before Jesus Christ at the Judgment Seat of Christ, where each shall be evaluated for his service  and rewarded by Christ (2 Corinthians 5.10; Romans 14.10-12; 1 Corinthians 3.12-15). The Judgment Seat of Christ will apparently be in heaven after the removal of the church and before Christ returns to rule and reign on earth (2 Corinthians 5.8 and 10).
  • The Judgment Seat of Christ is not the same as the Great White Throne Judgment of Revelation 20.11-15.  The Great White Throne Judgment is the judgment of unbelievers; that judgment will demonstrate each unbeliever’s disqualification from eternal life with God.
  • The evaluation process is described in 1 Corinthians 3.12-15 and 2 Corinthians 5.10. Divine good works is a descriptive term for service that God (divine) produces in a believer and then rewards. Human good works is service that the believer by his human nature produces apart from the Holy Spirit, fellowship, and the God’s word.
  • Believers in Christ have the potential to work hard in Christian service but receive little reward because. The accumulation of spiritual rewards require
    • God's grace (his help, 1 Corinthians 3:12; also 1 Corinthians 15:10),
    • Wise plan (wise builder, 1 Corinthians 3:10),
    • Right foundation is Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 3:11),
    • Right materials are those that are God authorizes like Scripture (1 Corinthians 3:12, 2 John 4-8),
    • Love (1 Corinthians 13:1-3),
    • Holy Spirit (Romans 8:1-17),
    • Abiding in Christ (John 15:4-5).
  • 2 Thessalonians 3.13 and Galatians 6.9 motivate us to continued godly service. We never finish Christian service in the sense that it is over and done with. We serve like the farmer milks his cows: “The hardest thing about milking cows, “observed the farmer, “is that they never stay milked.”
  • Paul writes to Timothy that his service is like a soldier, an athlete, and a farmer. The soldier will suffer hardships and is single minded toward pleasing his commander. The athlete follows the rules laid down for training and competition. The hard working farmer shares in the fruit of his labors.
  • What are the rewards?  Specific rewards are not mentioned in the Bible, except for the different crowns and the ruling privileges with Christ (Romans 8.17; the overcomers of Revelation 2-3).
  • Human honors do not last. The Roman triumphal procession illustrates great human honors to a victorious general. Those h0onors do not last. In fact, the honored generals were often later assassinated. See The Oxford Classical Dictionary, Second edition (1970. Reprint 1976), page 1095.
  • Illustration of the Judgment Seat of Christ, from book 7, The Spirit Flyer Series. Pages 171-183.
  • Summary for understanding and application
    • Jesus Christ will reward believers for faithful service.
    • The evaluation and rewarding will take place at the Judgment Seat of Christ.
    • Every believer will get some reward.
    • Rewards are not just for what we might call spiritual or religious activity. Rewards will be for any and all faithful service to the Lord, whether in church, on the mission field, household duties, vocational labor, recreational activity, and anything else you might be engaged in.
    • What should I do and how should I do it
      • To gain reward from the Lord,
      • To not lose what I have accomplished but gain a full reward,
      • To not be ashamed at his coming? 
  • What are some real life examples of faithful service that we have done the past few days and for which we know we shall receive reward at the Judgment Seat of Christ? This will help us think more clearly about how we live and when, what, and how we serve the Lord.
    • Is this biblical doctrine worthwhile and practical? If so, then let’s get some real life personal situations. These are not to brag, but to test the doctrine and our belief in it. To say, “everything while I was in fellowship and spiritual” is not an answer. We need to identify some prominent service because if we do not then the entire doctrine becomes theoretical and not very accountable.
    • Believers in the congregation who suffer, may do so to teach the congregation biblical lessons. In one sense, they may suffer in our place. God rewards them. Will God reward us for supporting them and learning the lessons? Why and for what?
    • We sometimes “drag our feet” when it comes to Christian service. Later on we learn the blessing our service was to others and to ourselves. Any thoughts about this?
  • Review central Scripture that teach about rewards for believers.

Last Update

Thursday, March 27, 2008